AnMed Health nurse making pillows for mastectomy patients

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 12:45 AM EDT
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Anderson, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - An AnMed Health nurse is using her pain and life lessons to help patients. Ann Cothran makes pillows for patients who are recovering from mastectomy surgery.

Cothran was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2020.

“Cancers not an easy word to hear,” she said. “Fortunately, it was my radiologist that I work with all the time who told me.”

Her healthcare journey was predestined, Cothran has worked in healthcare for decades. Currently, she’s a registered nurse in the radiology department. Her mother and aunts have battled cancer, too.

“I am with women when they have their breast biopsy,” she proudly explained.

Part of the treatment process was for this mother and nurse included having a mastectomy. Which was done in April 2021.

During the recovery, she ordered pillows off the internet to help protect surgery scars.

That is highly recommended for patients who undergo surgery.

“[I] Would wear it under the seatbelt as we were going places. And also, after having a lymph node dissection with my mastectomy, under your arms are real sore. So this straps around, it gave my arm a place to rest,” Cothran described.

But it was her misery that became her ministry.

“I started making the pillows in July of last year,” she said.

Those pillows are now given to other mastectomy patients. So far, she’s made over 90. It takes the nurse about 15 to 20 minutes to make each one. Cothran says during her free time, while watching television, she cuts out the shapes. She doesn’t meet the patients. The pillows are distributed by the hospital’s nurse navigator. However, that hasn’t stopped them from reaching out to her to say thank you.

One card that was received from a patient reads “post surgery, I received a wonderful black and white plaid pillow form you. I adore my pillow. I used it 24 hours a day for several days, weeks actually. And now I reach for it daily when I’m in need of a comfort hug.”

A comfort provided through a deeply personal experience.